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Re: Why Cornell's Institutional Repository Is Near-Empty


On Mon, 19 Mar 2007, Greg Tananbaum wrote:

> Stevan concluded his recent post regarding Cornell's IR 
> population struggles with the statement, "The only thing 
> Cornell needs to do if it wants its IR filled with Cornell's 
> own research output is to mandate it."  One might rightly 
> wonder whether this is the only thing they CAN do to fill the 
> IR.

Cornell can do more: It can provide incentives (as University of 
Minho in Portugal and DARE in the Netherlands have done). That 
will accelerate compliance with the mandate. But Arthur Sale's 
comparative studies show that the essential component is the 
mandate: With it, you reach 100% within about 2 years, without it 
you don't even come close:

         Sale, Arthur (2006a) Researchers and institutional
         repositories, in Jacobs, Neil, Eds. Open Access: Key
         Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, chapter 9,
         pages 87-100. Chandos Publishing (Oxford) Limited.

         Sale, A. The Impact of Mandatory Policies on
         ETD Acquisition. D-Lib Magazine April 2006,
         12(4). http://dx.doi.org/10.1045/april2006-sale

         Sale, A. Comparison of content policies for institutional
         repositories in Australia. First Monday, 11(4), April

         Sale, A. The acquisition of open access research
         articles. First Monday, 11(9), October 2006.

         Sale, A. (2007) The Patchwork Mandate
         D-Lib Magazine 13 1/2 January/February

> The fact that so few institutions, particularly in the US, have 
> issued such a diktat after six years of IR activity would seem 
> to indicate that this is unlikely to happen en masse.

Until about 3 years ago (i.e., about 10 years after the 1994 
"Subversive Proposal") *no* university or funder had mandated OA 
self-archiving. There are now 12 university or departmental 
mandates adopted worldwide, and 11 funder mandates, plus 1 
multi-institutional mandate and 6 funder mandates proposed. Stay 

> I wonder is whether this list, and the scholarly communication 
> space generally, would be better served by asking whether 
> Cornell, or any institution for that matter, can provide any 
> compelling incentives short of a mandate to encourage wholesale 
> IR participation.  Or is this a sisyphean task?

To repeat: Incentives are good, and helpful, but insufficient. 
The necessary and sufficient condition for a full OA IR is a 
Green OA mandate. Incentives can help reach 100% faster, but 
incentives alone won't do the trick.

On Mon, 19 Mar 2007, Ian Russell wrote:

> Davis and Connolly's article is an interesting one and I am 
> sure that the views of Cornell researchers that are reported 
> are representative of most faculty at most universities. 
> Stevan should not automatically blame ignorance where there is 
> a genuine difference of opinion.

One cannot have differences of opinion about matters of empirical 
evidence of whose existence one is not even aware.

(1) It is an empirical datum that OA self-archiving enhances 
research impact.

(2) It is an empirical datum that researchers need and want 
enhanced research impact.

(3) It is an empirical datum that only about 15% of researchers 
self-archive spontaneously.

(4) It is an empirical datum that self-archiving can be and has 
been mandated.

(5) It is an empirical datum that when mandated, self-archiving 
reaches 100% in about 2 years.

Many of the opinions elicited by the Cornell questionnaire were 
simply orthogonal to the above. Some were simply ignorant of it. 
None of the opinions constituted empirical counter-evidence.

> I personally fail to understand how Stevan Harnad can continue 
> to state that the purpose of IRs "is to supplement subscription 
> access" (his point 1) when he himself has admitted that self 
> archiving will lead to the demise of subscription journals. 
> To quote: "It is important to state clearly that... it is 
> possible, indeed probable, that self-archiving will cause some 
> cancellations" (see for example 
> http://www.libraryjournal.com/clear/CA6392242.html).

Umm, I detect a difference between "demise of journals" and "some 

Although I continue to feel that this sort of speculation is 
irrelevant and a mere distraction, reinforcing inaction at this 
time, I can speculate as well as the rest of them, and my 
speculation is that universal funder and university Green OA 
self-archiving mandates, after first generating 100% OA (not a 
speculation but an evidence-based prediction), will eventually 
lead to journal cancellations, which will first lead to 
cost-cutting and downsizing, abandoning the paper version and 
eventually offloading even the provision of the online version to 
the network of IRs, so that journals only perform peer review; 
the cost-recovery model will then make the transition to Gold OA 
publication charges, paid for by redirecting the institutional 
windfall subscription cancellation savings.

So, 100% Green, then conversion to Gold. Cancellations, but not 
demise but natural adaptation.


> Evidence has emerged that mandated self-archiving will cause 
> subscription journals to go out of business (see for example 
> PRC Summary paper 2 - www.publishingresearch.org.uk) and ALPSP 
> Survey of Librarians on Factors in Journal Cancellation - 
> www.alpsp.org).

Utter nonsense. Evidence has not even emerged that mandated 
self-archiving will cause cancellations (though I expect that it 

Self-Archiving and Journal Subscriptions: Critique of PRC Study:


On Mon, 19 Mar 2007, Phil Davis wrote:

> Stevan Harnad wrote:
> > The only thing Cornell needs to do if it wants its IR filled
> > with Cornell's own research output is to mandate it.
> It sounds simple enough.  Make one's faculty do what they don't 
> see as necessary themselves.  This can the solution to every 
> institution's ills, as long as we have a Philosopher King 
> running our universities, and a naive belief that the ignorant 
> faculty masses can be ruled by a strong, wise, and benevolent 
> leader.

Green OA self-archiving can, and should be, and will be, and is 
being mandated, just as publish(-or-perish)ing can, and should be 
and has been mandated.

It does not take a Philosopher King to make a few elementary 
conclusions from the following empirical data [SEE ABOVE].  And 
if that empirical evidence is not enough to convince you that 
there is nothing even faintly regal or philosophical about any of 
this, maybe money will be able to talk louder:

     Houghton, J., Steele, C. & Sheehan, P. (2006) Research
     Communication Costs in Australia: Emerging Opportunities and
     Benefits. A report to the Department of Education, Science
     and Training.

     Houghton, J. & Sheehan, P. (2006) The Economic Impact of
     Enhanced Access to Research Findings.  Centre for Strategic
     Economic Studies, Victoria University

     Harnad, S., Carr, L., Brody, T. & Oppenheim, C. (2003)
     online RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives: Improving
     the UK Research Assessment Exercise whilst making it cheaper
     and easier. Ariadne 35 (April 2003).

     Harnad, S. (2005) Making the case for web-based
     self-archiving. Research Money 19 (16).

     Harnad, S. (2005) Maximising the Return on UK's Public
     Investment in Research.

     Harnad, Stevan (2005) Australia Is Not Maximising the Return
     on its Research Investment. In Steele, Prof Colin, Eds.
     Proceedings National Scholarly Communications Forum 2005,
     Sydney, Australia.

> The goal of our paper was not to demonstrate that IRs are a 
> failure.

Perhaps not; but the paper did manage to convey the fact that 
Cornell's IR is a failure, to date, insofar as capturing 
Cornell's article output is concerned. What the paper itself 
failed to convey was what to needs be done about it.

> It was to find out why they are not serving the purpose(s) we 
> intended them to serve.  This is why we focused on non-use, and 
> why our subtitle reads: "Evaluating the Reasons for Non-use of 
> Cornell University's Installation of DSpace."

As noted in my critique, Cornell is no exception, and the fact 
that IRs without mandates are not filling was already well known 
from the empirical surveys (by Alma Swan) you failed to cite.

Why Cornell's Institutional Repository Is Near-Empty

The problem, to repeat, was already known. (Just a glimpse at the 
growth data in ROAR for any archive would have revealed it at 
once.)  http://roar.eprints.org/

The reasons Cornell faculty gave were quite familiar too, being 
already the subject of FAQs for years now. (Classifying them is 
left as an exercise to the reader: Please let me know if you find 
any new categories that need to be added to the existing ones.)


> If we are to work at an institution where our researchers have 
> the freedom to chose how they disseminate and archive their 
> work, then it is important to understand the beliefs and 
> motivations behind their behaviors.

Disseminating and archiving (over and above merely publishing in 
a journal) are new, online-age functions, with no precedents. 
Faculty are slow on the draw, in picking up on the possibilities 
and the benefits, to them, their universities, their funders, the 
R&D industries, students, the developing world, and the 
tax-payers who fund their funders, and to research productivity 
and progress itself. Green OA mandates are meant to get them up 
to speed, in the online age, in their own interests, as well as 
those of their universities, their funders, the R&D industries, 
students, the developing world, the tax-payers who fund their 
funders, and to research productivity and progress itself -- just 
as publish-or-perish mandates did, in the paper age.  All we're 
talking about is a few extra keystrokes, after all. The 
publish-or-perish mandate has already taken care of the lion's 
share of them.

     Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2005) Keystroke Economy: A Study of
     the Time and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving

> These results may lead to building better services around 
> repositories, actively harvesting documents on personal and 
> laboratory websites rather than waiting passively for 
> individuals to deposit them

Harvesting articles that are already online is a splendid idea, 
and the IR softwares are already developing some capabilities for 
that. But to harvest an author's articles, you first need a 

(It does not, and never has mattered who actually does the 
keystrokes. Green OA mandates are keystroke mandates. The 
keystrokes need to be done, whether by authors, their students, 
their research assistants, their secretaries or their librarians. 
It is only keystrokes that stand between us and 100% OA. It is 
the keystrokes that need to be mandated.)

> educating faculty on copyright law

Heaven forfend! That's part of Cornell's folly!

     Cornell's Copyright Advice: Guide for the Perplexed Self-

Don't try to educate faculty on copyright law! Copyright law is a 
mess in the online medium: The blind leading the blind.

The solution is the Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA) 
mandate which *moots* the copyright issue completely, unbundling 
the deposit keystroke mandate from the (optional) question of 
when to set access to the deposit as Open Access versus Closed 
Access. Deposit itself is merely an internal institutional 
record-keeping matter. Publishers and copyright lawyers have 
absolutely no say in that matter.

     Generic Rationale and Model for University Open Access
     Self-Archiving Mandate: Immediate-Deposit/Optional Access

And to tide over research access needs during any embargo, there 
is the IR's EMAIL EPRINT REQUEST button for any would-be user of 
a Closed Access document. (Its metadata are visible webwide.)


> repurposing library staff to deposit the work of faculty

No point, if the deposits are not mandated.

> and even enlisting publishers to become part of the repository

Umm, what do you have in mind there? Harvesting Gold OA articles? 
That's the trivial bit (since they're already OA!). Harnessing 
the articles in Green non-OA journals? Those publishers have 
already given the author the green light to self-archive, but 
surely you don't expect them to do the depositing for the 
authors. (Often the endorsement is only for the author's final 
draft, not the publisher's PDF.) And some of those "Green" 
publishers -- and most of the Gray ones -- are busy lobbying 
against Green OA self-archiving mandates: Do you think they would 
be eager to help mediate deposit on behalf of the unmandated 

> These solutions are much more difficult than a simple mandate, 
> yet ultimately, their effects may be more lasting.

Difficult indeed, without the mandate first. (And getting the 
mandates has taken long enough already so it no longer qualifies 
for the descriptor "simple.")

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum